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State Now is your place for Wolfpack sports. Beat writer Joe Giglio has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @jwgiglio or @accnow.

Summer Hoops Preview '14: Wolfpack hits the reset button

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Coach: Mark Gottfried (third season, 48-24 at N.C. State; 327-178 overall)

2012-13 record: 24-11 (11-7 ACC, fifth)

Postseason: NCAA tournament, 0-1 (lost to Temple)

Projected starting lineup: PG Cat Barber, G Desmond Lee, G Ralston Turner, F T.J. Warren, F Kyle Washington

Plus

• A fresh start. Mark Gottfried gets to start over in Year 3 at N.C. State and he does so with two NCAA tournament appearances under his belt and a trip to the Sweet 16.

Gottfried said after the NCAA tournament loss to Temple he could never get all the players to buy in last season. With a new season, new roster, he gets to push the reset button and try again with a group of players he recruited.

• Sophomore forward T.J. Warren averaged 12.1 points in a supporting role as a freshman. He has the ability, and offensive efficiency, to parlay his bigger role this season into an ACC scoring title. He will need to consistently rebound better, and shoot better from the free-throw line (54.2 percent), but the opportunity is there for Warren to put together an All-ACC season.

• N.C. State will miss both forwards C.J. Leslie, the team's leading scorer the past two seasons, and Richard Howell, who led the ACC in rebounding, but both were undersized for their positions.

In freshman bigs Kyle Washington (6-9, 215 pounds) and BeeJay Anya (6-9, 275), Gottfried is getting bigger, taller bodies to play the interior. Senior 7-footer Jordan Vandenberg also fits the criteria and figures to get more minutes (5.4) than he did last season.

Minus

• There are two point guards on the roster, in sophomore Tyler Lewis and freshman Cat Barber, but neither is as talented as Lorenzo Brown, who left for the NBA after his junior season. Brown led the ACC with 7.2 assists and averaged 12.4 points per game, his production will be difficult to consistently match. Not to mention, neither Lewis nor Barber will have as many proven scoring options to feed as Brown did.

• Warren started 14 games last season, Lewis started two and Vandenberg started one. That's all the Wolfpack has back from last season's roster, which lost two productive seniors in Howell and shooting guard Scott Wood, two talented juniors in Leslie and Brown, and guard Rodney Purvis decided to transfer to Connecticut.

That doesn't leave a lot of experience or scoring (78.9 percent of it needs to be replaced) from a team that won 24 games and made the NCAA tournament.

Plus, while Washington and Anya are bigger than either Leslie or Howell, they don't have any college experience. Gottfried brought in junior college guard Desmond Lee to offset the loss of Purvis, and Lee's maturity will help, but Gottfried couldn't find a veteran big man to plug into the rotation.

Bottom Line

N.C. State missed an opportunity last season. There are only so many seasons when you're going to be on equal footing with Duke and UNC and the Wolfpack had one of those chances last season and couldn't turn it into anything more than a fifth-place ACC finish.

There were internal issues with the team last season, ones Gottfried tried to but couldn't fix. With basically a whole new roster, he has a chance this season to start over. State will be looking up at UNC and Duke in the process, but there are also no expectations to handle.

The conference schedule, with trips to Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt, will keep the Wolfpack in the middle third of the conference, and probably outside of the NCAA conversation, but there's also a welcomed chance for the Pack to exceed expectations.

###

Returning PPG RPG APG
F T.J. Warren, So. 12.1 4.2 0.8
PG Tyler Lewis, So. 3.5 1.1 1.4
F Jordan Vandenberg, Sr. 0.7 0.7 0.0
Gone PPG RPG APG
F C.J. Leslie (NBA) 15.1 7.4 1.5
F Richard Howell 12.7 10.9 1.7
G Scott Wood 12.6 2.9 1.1
PG Lorenzo Brown (NBA) 12.4 4.3 7.2
G Rodney Purvis (transfer) 8.3 2.4 1.3
New Ht. Wt. Rank
G Ralston Turner (LSU), Jr. 6-5 209
G Desmond Lee, Jr. 6-3 185
PG Cat Barber, Fr. 6-2 165 26
F BeeJay Anya, Fr. 6-9 275 67
F Kyle Washington, Fr. 6-9 215 97
F Lennard Freeman, Fr. 6-8 215 NR

###

Recruiting analysis by ESPN's Dave Telep:

Barber: "He's a speed merchant. His first instinct is to step on the gas and get to the rim and he's willing to take people with him. He has to work on his shot but he can spread it around and he's exceptionally fast. He's going to be difficult to guard.
"It will be an interesting dynamic with him and Tyler Lewis because they can both play at the same time."

Washington: "He has the best chance of being of power forward. I've liked him best when he can shoot a 15-foot jump shot. He has really undervalued length and he can extend at the rim. The biggest thing for Kyle is replicating the effort every single time. "

Anya: "He's very close to being where he needs to be physically and if you took at all the measurables, he's in the top 1 or 2 in the entire class in reach and wingspan. He can play through the rim and be a fantastic back-to-the-basket play. His effort and results have been sporadic. At his highest point, during his junior year, he was a dominant post player. He will benefit from a defined role."

Freeman: "Lennard adds depth in front court. He's not going to be ready to play major minutes as a freshman. He's almost a member of the class of 2014 in that way. He's young and will be in more of an apprentice role as a freshman."

Comments

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Starting lineup

Personally, I hope Tyler Lewis wins the starting nod at PG. Basically, I'm tired of talented guys getting PT based on talent alone, regardless of how well or hard they play. For all his so-called deficiencies, he played serious minutes against the best the ACC has to offer and did very well.

It is true that this is a transition year. This team is young, inexperienced and talented. What they need is a team that sets ego aside and works together for one goal--winning. Lewis embodies this concept and deserves a fair shot. I hope Gott provides it.

Lewis, egos and expectations

Lewis is talented himself and would expect to see him play quite a bit. He did do well last year, except for the occassional "assist to the other team" which lead to a layup and also his lack of size on the defensive end.

Unless some of the new guys coming in think that they are prema donas, I wouldn't expect MG to have any difficulty from and ego standpoint this year, except for possibly T.J.?
Or maybe Vandenburg, who as a senior demands more playing time? ;-)

Probably the the best thing for the program this year will be the lack of expectations. Being picked to finish first was I am sure exciting for some of the fans in the beginning, but the talent was just not as good as billed, or they just didn't jell as a team, or maybe both. Anyway, making the NCAA should be a major goal.

Agreed

Lewis has weaknesses, but who doesn't? The difference in my mind is that his are magnified because he doesn't "look" like a big time player. If Barber can beat him out fair and square, fine. But I just hope that Gott gives him a fair shot. He has earned that.

Regarding TJ, that's an interesting case. He acted out sometimes last year, but I am starting to wonder if it was a reaction to the disfunction led by CJL. His public attitude has been good since the season ended, so I am cautiously optimistic about him as a good teammate.

We shall see.

Yes

Lewis is skilled, it's just a drop off from Lo. I don't know much about Barber, but surely MG will give both an equal shot.
Yes, how TJ plays out will be interesting. If he thinks that he is BMOC, then things in his head just might get away from him a bit. Of course on the other hand, the team might need that type of attitude from him if he is the one to provide leadership. If he has a good year, I wouldn't be surprised to see him enter the draft early.

2 things

1. If TJ has an All-ACC year, he is gone. Guaranteed.

2. What does BMOC mean? Forgive me. I am old and out of touch.

BMOC

"Big Man On Campus"

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.
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